High school teacher gets results with engineering, design team championship

Oak Ridge High School team prepares to represent state in design challenge

By Paul Giorgio - Producer

ORLANDO, Fla. - Oak Ridge High School math teacher John Raulerson is this week's Getting Results Award winner. 

Raulerson and his team were announced as Florida state champions of the Real World Design Challenge earlier this year. 

The competition challenges public and private high school students to use core STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) principles and apply them to workplace problems.

Raulerson's classroom is an after-school gathering place for team members nearly obsessed with the idea of perfecting their project.

"This is all I think about," senior Zion Cristwell said while laughing.

Teammate Daniel Andujar agrees.

"Problem-solving. I think that's what motivates me," he said. "We get a problem and we solve it. Then we move on to the next one." 

Cristwell, Andujar and their teammates gather every day for at least an hour to put the finishing touches on their presentation. 

"The kids worked hard," Raulerson said. "I just call this a team -- a think tank."

This year's challenge was to design an aircraft that could help future farmers deal with population growth and crop infestations. The project is built in theory only. An 80-page booklet is used to confirm and validate their ideas. The team relies on mentors and industry experts for guidance.

"We're coming up with an aircraft system that is going to be very, very economic. It's going to help the farmer spray and take care of his fields," Raulerson said.

His excitement with the project is evident.  

As state champions, the team has been invited to compete in the RWDC national competition in Washington D.C.

Students like Cristwell say the hands-on experience will help when applying to colleges.

"I plan on becoming an astronaut," he said. "So this is a big step for me. It has engineering imprints and it gets you in that mindset of building and creating." 

Cristwell said each member of the winning national team will receive $50,000 in scholarship money. If that isn't enough motivation, the huge posters of Raulerson's past national championship teams hang on the wall overhead to remind them of their goal. 

"Our goal is a national championship," he said. "And I'm going to do my best to lead these kids to a national championship." 

Raulerson arrived on campus seven months ago, but brings with him years of experience competing in design challenges. He has coached teams to seven state championships and two national championships. 

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Raulerson was nominated by his cousin, James Floyd to receive the Getting Results Award.

"He really deserves the recognition," Floyd said.

Raulerson said he loves the program because of the many opportunities it presents.

"It allows you to compete against the best in the world, and that's what they're going to be doing, competing against the best in the world." 

  The Oak Ridge Real World Design Challenge team competes in Washington, D.C. next month. 

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